How to Grow Fruit Trees From Seed


Open pollinated, or heirloom, varieties of fruit trees can be started from seed. But many varieties of fruit, such as those available at grocery stores, are often hybrids, which means their seeds will not reproduce "true to type." In addition, it can take many years, sometimes up to 15, for trees grown from seed to produce fruit. Such trees might also grow larger than the tree from which you took seeds. Heirloom varieties of citrus can give you good results, but starting an apple, plum, apricot or peach from seed can be a gamble.

Step 1

Collect seeds from very ripe fruit. Wash off all pulp and then allow them to dry for one week.

Step 2

Stratify your seeds in the refrigerator. Place moist peat moss, vermiculite, sand or a combination of the three in plastic zip-top bags and add your seeds and some water. Leave them in the fridge for three to four months, but check them from time to time to see if germination has begun.

Step 3

Plant germinated seeds in pots or flats filled with a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite. Keep these pots damp; this is easy if you spread a layer of plastic wrap over the pots' surface. Punch some holes in the plastic to give the young trees circulation. Keep your pots in a warm area that receives only a small amount of direct sunlight.

Step 4

Move young seedlings to an area that receives full sun, or where you have provided artificial light, when they are two to three inches tall.

Step 5

Allow your young trees to remain in their pots for several months. If you keep them where you can monitor their growth, water needs and other factors that influence their health, chances of their survival will be better than if you plant them directly into the ground.

Step 6

Fertilize young trees with a balanced houseplant fertilizer after they are three to four months old.

Tips and Warnings

  • For many varieties of fruit, purchase young grafted trees, because they will give you a harvest sooner than seed-started trees. You will also be assured that the variety is "true to type."

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss, vermiculite or sand
  • Plastic zip-top bags
  • Refrigerator
  • Pots or flats
  • Plastic wrap
  • Light (sun or artificial)
  • Houseplant fertilizer


  • Purdue University
  • UCB Botanical Garden forum
  • Apple info
Keywords: fruit trees, seeds propagating, gardening edibles

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.